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AUSTRALIA PARTNERS TO PROMOTE TIMOR-LESTE COFFEE FARMERS

Under the support of the Australian Government’s Business Partnerships Platform (BPP), a new initiative aims to support Timor-Leste’s community of coffee farmers and push for economic growth by partnering local farmers with bigger market opportunities.

Coffee is the country’s largest non-oil export and a significant source of income for the rural population, making it essential to boost the business in the coffee sector.

BPP supports partnerships between the Australian Government and inclusive businesses to create lasting social impact. This initiative — an addition to Australia’s aid program that has been going on since 2015 — involves a partnership that includes speciality coffee producer, Kape Diem, not-for-profit consultancy 1LM, and Australian green bean sourcing company Project Origin.

A total of $206,000 in investments by the Australian Government and $1.5 million in private investment supports the initiative.

One of the elements of the programme is to establish a sustainable export business as well as various strategies to improve the quality of specialist coffee crops. Local farmers will be provided with support in form of training, education and technical assistance. Contracts are also established to ensure the farmers receive a secured income even before harvesting crops, allowing a more stable work environment.

In addition, the initiative aims to tackle gender inequality between men and women. Opportunities and income aren’t evenly distributed among the two genders, and to address this, the contracts that BBP offer must be signed by both the husband and wife.

One of the forms of training and education includes mixed and women only sessions. Employing women in salary positions will also be one of the courses of action to be taken, where women will be paid directly, instead of going through their male counterparts. These measures are designed to help ensure women’s rights.

Minister of International Development and the Pacific, Zed Seselja, mentioned that this initiative is also assisting Timor-Leste to recover from COVID-19 impacts and recent natural disasters. However, the main aim is to improve the current state of the coffee sector in the country. The minister stated:

“This partnership will continue the growth of the speciality coffee market in Timor-Leste, helping establish a sustainable coffee export business that is expected to see increased incomes across 1000 households.”

The direction of this partnership is currently to kill two birds with one stone. But they have their eyes set on their original mission: to improve the economy of Timor-Leste’s coffee sector as a whole and aid community families whose main source of income comes from this essential crop.

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